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The Best Wines for Making Sangria (And a Tasty Recipe for Making Your Own)

When you think of Italian wine cocktails, you generally tend to think of white and sparkling wines. After all, they usually have the lighter flavours that make them more suitable for mixing with other types of drinks.

You may not immediately think of Italian red wines as being ideal for a cocktail.

But then…that also means you’re missing out in one of the most famous cocktails of all.

We’re talking, of course, about Sangria

Now, as much as we’d love Italy to be able to lay claim to this gorgeous cocktail, we’re afraid that we just can’t do that. All credit for the creation of Sangria goes to Spain, though you could argue that it’s the United States that has given the drink its true push to popularity.

This fruity little punch will definitely give you a different experience to drinking red wine on its own. And in a moment, we’re going to share with you a selection of wines that are perfect for making the cocktail.

But before we can do that, you actually need to know how to make the thing. This is the perfect Sangria recipe for those summer days when you want something a little different to your regular wine.

The Recipe

Happily, Sangria is a pretty easy cocktail to make. And the recipe we’re about to share will help you to fill a pitcher with the stuff.

But before we get to the method, you need to make sure that you have the following:

  • A chilled bottle of red wine (yes, we said chilled!)
  • About half a cup of brandy
  • A large orange
  • A couple of tablespoons of syrup (maple is a good choice here)
  • A lemon that’s sliced into thin pieces
  • One cup of thinly sliced seasonal fruits
    • Whatever’s growing in the moment works best here as you want the cocktail to have a fresh feel to it. That means these fruits could be anything from apples through to strawberries. You’ll generally want to avoid citrus fruits though, as you get plenty of that from the orange and lemon.
  • Some ice, which you’ll use when serving.

Now that you’ve got everything ready, just follow these steps:

Step 1

Slice the orange in half from the stem end down. We’re not looking for a horizontal slice here!

Step 2

Take one half of the orange and squeeze it into your pitcher. 

Step 3

Grab the other half of the orange and slice it into thin slices. Place these inside the pitcher as well.

Step 4

Add your sliced lemon and sliced seasonal fruits to the pitcher.

Step 5

Add the brandy and a single tablespoon of your syrup. You may want to give the mixture a little stir at this point.

Step 6

Pour your red wine into the pitcher and stir well to combine all of the ingredients.

Step 7

Give the sangria a quick taste. If it’s not quite sweet enough for your liking, add the last bit of maple syrup.

Step 8

You have a couple of choices here.

You could start serving the drink immediately and you’re certainly going to get a rich, sweet, and fruity taste.

Or, you could pop the pitcher into the fridge and let it marinate for a few hours. The juices from the fruit will really blend into the wine and you’ll get an even more powerful punch from the cocktail.

When you do serve, pour the drink into wine glasses and add a couple of ice cubes to keep it chilled.

The Red Wines for Sangria

Now that you know how to make Sangria, it’s just a case of choosing a red wine to make the cocktail with. 

Generally speaking, you want something that’s fruity and either medium or full-bodied. 

Let’s kick the list off with…

Rioja

You can’t have a Spanish cocktail and not have a Spanish wine on the list! Rioja tends to be the wine that the Spanish favour for their Sangria thanks to its full body and fruity flavours.

The wine is also preferred because it’s a blend. That means you don’t have a single grape that has the potential to overpower the entire drink.

If you’re going for the most authentic experience possible, you have to consider Rioja for the cocktail. But of course, that doesn’t mean that you can’t try wines from other countries.

Primitivo

Also known as Zinfandel if you’re buying from California, Primitivo is an Italian red wine grape variety that makes for the perfect mixer for sangria.

Again, it’s the fruitiness of the wine that comes to the fore here. Primitivo has a richness to it that almost makes it feel like a jammy wine. However, this is also an excellent choice for anybody who wants to add a little spice to their sangria.

The spicy undertones of Primitivo lend a whole new complexion to the cocktail. Better yet, this gets balanced out with a few floral notes that ensure the wine doesn’t make the cocktail too spicy or strong.

Garnacha

Known as Grenache in its native Spain, this red wine is another popular one for sangria lovers.

And again, it’s the fruitiness that’s on display that makes this wine such a popular choice. However, we will say that there’s a certain type of fruitiness that you need to keep in mind here. Garnacha tends to work best with sangria’s made using dark fruits, such as blackberries.

If you have lighter fruits, it may be best to stick to Rioja. Otherwise, you may just have a red wine that overpowers the cocktail.

The Final Word

Sangria is perfect for those warm summer nights when you’re hanging out with friends.

And yes, we know that those nights aren’t quite here yet. But we’re creeping ever closer to them and you will want to have this handy little guide ready for when they arrive.

As always, we encourage you to experiment to find some interesting wines for your own cocktails. And of course, you can rely on us to provide anything that you need.

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